CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- The family of a Montgomery County man is suing the Conroe Police Department for false arrest and malicious prosecution.
The case involves former Oak Ridge High School teacher, Brian Petersen, who police accused of online solicitation of a minor.
Brian, who was 39 years old, was a member of the LGBTQ+ community. After an interaction on the app Grindr in July and August 2019, Conroe police arrested Petersen.
"The Conroe Police Department knew what they were doing was wrong," said Douglas Petersen, Brian's father. "And we are doing it so we can clear his name of any criminal activity."
Petersen bonded out after the charge, but then died by suicide. In a note to family and friends, he wrote that his account was the truth, but after losing everything, he "chose oblivion." Petersen had no previous criminal history and was never accused of wrongdoing with a student at Oak Ridge.
"He was on an 18 and over website," said Chad Petersen, Brian's brother. "He was doing everything legal. But to be caught up in something like this just destroyed his life."
The lawsuit alleges the detective in the case pretended to be a minor. And he contended that he left a voice message for Petersen pretending to be an underage teenager. Petersen claimed he could tell the caller was acting and was a much older man and that he never intended to meet up with or have sex with a minor.
Conroe police said they will not comment on pending litigation and the Conroe City Attorney has not responded to our phone call. But according to the family's attorney, the key piece of evidence, the voicemail, is missing and the city cannot produce it. We know from records they did, however, confiscate Petersen's phone.
"The police then did not retain that voice message," said the family's attorney, civil rights lawyer Randall Kallinen. "Which of course, if there was going to be any criminal prosecution, one would of course retain the recording."
For the family, this is not about getting back their son. Instead, it is about fighting for him after he had given up hope.
For more updates on the lawsuit, follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Family of former teacher sues Conroe PD over arrest that 'destroyed his life'
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